May 13, 2015 - 2:54pm --

(UPDATE: Due to the concerns for the spread of avian flu, on June 2, 2015 the ODA cancelled ALL poultry shows in Ohio for 2015)

There’s been much in the media the past few months regarding the avian flu. To date no cases have been reported in Ohio, however, on May 11, 2015 the Indiana Board of Animal Health released a statement confirming a case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza in a backyard “hobby” flock near Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Previously, since December 2014 USDA had confirmed 122 cases of avian flu in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks.

Avian flu does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally. However, HPAI spreads rapidly in poultry and birds and is often fatal to chickens and turkeys.

Much like the rapid movement of the PED virus in swine last year, the virus that results in avian flu is easily spread. To prevent its spread, biosecurity is critical for all poultry producers including backyard flocks and youth project birds.

If a bird is suspected and subsequently determined to have the avian flu, for the protection of the Ohio’s poultry industry a quarantine would be put in place followed by an immediate depopulation of the flock with the disease.  It would not matter if this is a backyard flock, a 20,000 turkey house or a 2 million bird complex.

Ohio’s producers are no longer thinking about “if” this will hit in the state, but “when”.  It’s predicted that the level of risk will be high each fall and spring for the next couple years as waterfowl migrate back and forth through our state.

For more information about the concerns for avian flu, review this recent news release from our college:

Ohio ranks second in the nation in egg production, Ohio turkey production ranks 10th nationally, and Ohio ranks 15th for broiler chickens. It behooves all poultry producers – young and old, commercial or hobby – to work to protect not only our youth project birds, but most importantly Ohio’s $2.3 billion poultry industry from this highly pathogenic disease!